A Model for the Assessment of Medical Students' Competency in Medical Ethics

Amanda Favia, Lily Frank, Nada Gligorov, Steven Birnbaum, Paul Cummins, Robert Fallar, Kyle Ferguson, Katherine Mendis, Erica Friedman, Rosamond Rhodes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: This article focuses on the goals of our medical ethics education program and our formative assessments of students' competency at various points during this education. Methods: Because of the critical relationship between a program's goals and the design of an assessment strategy, we provide an overview of the theoretical basis of our curriculum, our program's objectives, and teaching methods. In order to verify that our students had achieved minimum competency in the objectives of our ethics curriculum, we developed assessments that evaluated their ability to identify and apply ethical principles to clinical cases and to use moral reasoning to resolve dilemmas. We verified the reliability of these assessment instruments by correlating two different Mount Sinai raters' scores of the same assessments with each other and the validity of these assessments with external reviewers. Results: For interrater reliability, paired raters scored the same student written exercise within 5 points of each other on 119 of the exercises (87% rater consensus). Therefore, we found our assessment tools to be reliable. Regarding validity, all three expert external reviewers agreed that our instruments were well suited for evaluating medical student competency in medical ethics and that they measured what we intended to measure. Conclusions: Our efforts in medical ethics education and competency assessment have produced an integrated model of goals, methodology, curriculum, and competency assessment. The entire model is directed at providing students with the ethical knowledge, skills, and attitudes required of an exemplary physician. We have developed reliable and valid assessment tools that allow us to evaluate the competency of students in medical ethics and to identify students who require remediation, and that are useful for other ethics programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-83
Number of pages16
JournalAJOB Primary Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2013


  • clinical moral reasoning
  • competency assessment
  • ethics education
  • medical ethics curriculum
  • medical school


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